Corneal Abrasion

Corneal Abrasion


Our cornea is constantly exposed to {the} surrounding environment, making it susceptible to injury. Trauma to {the} cornea can result in corneal abrasion. In this article, we shall take a brief look at this condition.

Causes of corneal abrasion

Trauma is {the} most common cause. Trauma can result from accidently inserting {the} finger into {the} eye, getting hit hard by a foreign object, a projectile that lands in {the} eye or even just dirt or dust that is rubbed into {the} eye to relieve {the} irritation. Wearing contact lenses for prolonged periods of time or even removing them can cause abrasions. Infection of {the} cornea due to contact lenses such as keratitis due to bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeroginosa can also result in abrasions. Contact lenses therefore need a lot of care when worn regularly.

Another condition that can cause corneal abrasions is called lattice corneal dystrophy. In this condition, protein called amyloid deposits in {the} corneal stromal tissue, giving it {the} appearance of a lattice. As it evolves, it becomes opaque, making {the} cornea cloudy, eroding {the} corneal epithelium and causing problems with vision. This effect is called epithelial erosion; a condition that can be recurrent. It can not only disrupt vision; it can also damage corneal nerves as well, causing tremendous amount of pain. Corneal erosions that occur when a person is asleep is called Boehm syndrome.

Symptoms and signs of corneal abrasion

Pain is a common symptom as is blurred vision. Patients can become sensitive to light (photophobia), excessive tear production, a constant feeling that there is a foreign body in {the} eye and squinting. Corneal edema is visible, along with an injected, red conjunctiva, swollen eyelids and enlarged pupils.

Diagnosis of corneal abrasion


Slit lamp examination is an excellent test to make a clinical diagnosis. The cornea is stained using a flourescien dye that makes any abrasions visible with {the} slit lamp. If a diagnosis is made, causes such as foreign bodies need to be looked for, along with any other signs of injury.

Treatment of corneal abrasion

Small abrasions often settle themselves and do not need any treatment as such. However larger abrasions need treatment, and can include topical cyclopegic drugs to help reduce pain, along with topical antibiotics. However, {the} need for antibiotics has been questioned by researchers, as several patients who do not use antibiotics do not develop an infection at all. The application of a pressure eye patch on {the} affected eye is also controversial; some studies have shown benefits of reducing trauma to {the} eye from blinking, while some studies show no benefit. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that using pressure eye patches prevents tears from providing {the} protective effects that it does, especially in contact lens wearers. Pressure bandages, if offered, as applied in phases over a few days.

If contact lenses need to be worn, then soft lenses can be worn as long as it is used with prescription eye drops that contain steroids and antibiotics. In {the} event of there being recurrent corneal erosions, phototherapeutic keratectomy can be offered.


These are rare and can include recurrent erosions.

Conclusion of corneal abrasion

Corneal abrasions are caused due to trauma and can result in a variety of symptoms. Treatments include pressure patches and antibiotics, though their requirement depends on {the} individual patient and varies as per available evidence. 

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